Bringing home a maiden Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 podium for Jack Perkins was a special moment for Walkinshaw Andretti United’s James Courtney.
The duo finished third on Sunday, capping off a five-year partnership that is currently no guarantee to continue with Courtney moving to the new Team Sydney project in 2020.
Like his six-time Bathurst-winning father Larry, Jack’s career has been focused around chasing success at Mount Panorama.
Although considered one of the stronger co-drivers in recent years, the 33-year-old Perkins had not finished better than eighth in 13 previous Great Race starts.
Sunday’s breakthrough came on a trying weekend as Perkins battled the effects of Influenza B virus, which included pulling out of his Dunlop Super2 commitments to save energy.
Their Sunday suffered an early setback with a puncture putting them off-strategy and requiring heavy fuel-saving from both drivers for much of the race.
Courtney got away with slapping the wall at Sulman Park in the penultimate stint with nothing more than a buckled wheel, before recording his fourth Bathurst podium and first since 2008.
“It was a long day for us and to come away with third, we’re pretty happy,” said Courtney, after holding off Jamie Whincup during the final lap shootout to the flag.
“To do it with this bloke [Perkins] beside me, how many times he has been up here to do it and the family history and all that sort of stuff is pretty special for me.”
Perkins was a Supercars race-winner alongside Courtney at the Gold Coast 600 in 2015 and said standing on the Bathurst podium was a special moment.
“I’ve been trying a bloody long time. I think Dad has had about 15 [actually 12 podiums], so to get one of them is pretty cool,” said Perkins post-race.
“I’ve been trying really hard, we’ve been really close over the years, driven really well, driven really bad sometimes as well.
“I’m just proud of James and the team to give us a car that was good enough to get on the podium.
“[The podium] was pretty cool, heaps of people down there and I was just really happy. I will have a few beers tonight although I’m crook.”
Courtney admitted he’d been lucky that the contact with the Sulman Park fence hadn’t had more serious consequences.
“It's probably more good luck than good management,” he said.
“We were pushing so hard and wanted to make up some ground we lost, we had to double-stack a couple of times.
“As I grazed the wall, I didn't hit it too hard, I could tell there was a buckled wheel, so I told the boys we'll push on and luckily there was a Safety Car and we could stop and change it.”
Third for Courtney and Perkins marked WAU’s third straight Bathurst podium, following two second-placed runs for Scott Pye and Warren Luff, who were eighth in 2019.